Nevermore // The Obsidian Conspiracy
Rating: 4.0/5.0 – Less complex, more accessible, don’t freak out!
Label: Century Media
Websites: nevermore.tv | myspace.com/nevermorefans
Release Dates: EU: 31.05.2010 | US: 06.08.2010
Nevermore has always held a special place in the metal community with both fans and other bands alike looking up to and respecting them. It isn’t hard to see why they command this level of respect, with world-class guitarist Jeff Loomis and vocalist extraordinaire Warrel Dane both calling Nevermore home. Because of this high profile and superb talent, a lot is expected from Nevermore and for the most part, album to album, Nevermore have consistently delivered the goods. Therefore, the arrival of a new slab of metal from these guys is always a pretty big deal and after waiting five years since The Godless Endeavor, we finally get The Obsidian Conspiracy.
Right off the bat it becomes obvious The Obsidian Conspiracy is a bit of a departure for Nevermore. While the trademark Nevermore elements are all still present, long-time fans may notice this is less complex and more accessible than The Godless Endeavor and other older works. Now, before diehard Nevermore fans get their panties in a bunch and jump out a window, this is still classic Nevermore and a very technical album with some very heavy moments. Additionally, this is far from some pop metal album. When I say accessible, I mean in the context of past Nevermore albums, which could be very dense and heavily technical and require patience to get into. Here however, the songs are all shorter in length than on previous albums, some tracks are instantly memorable and others quickly become so. For example, both “Emptiness Unobstructed” and “And the Maiden Spoke” jump out and stick in your head very quickly. I don’t recall this being the case with earlier albums, especially The Godless Endeavor. Perhaps the added accessibility comes from a growing maturity as songwriters or maybe some of it bled over from Dane’s solo album. Whatever the cause, the result is a collection of well crafted songs which ebb and flow very well from mood to mood.
As The Obsidian Conspiracy unfolds, you get everything from classic progressive thrash (“The Termination Proclamation,” “The Obsidian Conspiracy”), to brooding, morose epics (“And the Maiden Spoke,” “The Blue Marble and the New Soul”) all the way to more straight-forward metal (“Your Poison Throne,” “Emptiness Unobstructed”), all past elements of the Nevermore repertoire are showcased well, even in the more accessible format.
Mood-wise and lyrically, this is definitely not an uplifting, feel good album. It oscillates between rage, despair, grief and other sinister, haunting emotions, all expertly presented by the writing and execution of some truly top flight musicians. Warrel Dane’s vocals shine as always and few are as convincing at emotional expression. It’s easy to believe Dane feels the pain of the lyrics he creates and sings and it makes the songs much more powerful. Similarly, Jeff Loomis shows he can write technical yet accessible riffs and keep things powerful and energetic even during the slower, moodier tracks.
At the end of the day, this is a Nevermore album so you know it will be quality and contain excellent musicality. The Obsidian Conspiracy has no truly weak tracks and is interesting throughout its varying moods. The added accessibility makes the material easier to digest and appreciate for the average listener, yet this hasn’t caused the music to lose its edge or overall technicality. While I can foresee some negative feedback forthcoming for the slight shift in style and some considering this a disappointment of sorts, don’t be swayed. This is still Nevermore and it’s a solid, quality release and definitely worth checking out.